Political attacks take new twist

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…impugn integrity of Times Media Group

The concept of “fake news” has been advanced to another level in Guyana whereby phoney websites and social media pages of legitimate media entities are being created to spew untruths on matters that are designed to influence the Guyanese electorate.

In one instance, a screenshot of a “news item” purported to be posted by INews Guyana is making its rounds on the social media platform, Facebook, where many unsuspecting users believe it to be genuine content.

The image is being widely shared by persons who are a part of an Alliance For Change (AFC) group on Facebook.

The fake article states that Presidential Candidate of the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Irfaan Ali attended an A Partnership for National Unity/AFC rally in New Amsterdam – which is untrue. They even went so far as to photoshop the Candidate in an APNU T-shirt.

In another instance, a Facebook page branded “Guyana Times” was recently created, and purported to carry a poll which showed that the PPP/C was garnering fewer votes than the APNU/AFC coalition.

However, the real Guyana Times Facebook page has thousands of followers whereby the fake page has just seven followers.

Additionally, the fake Guyana Times page is sharing articles from other media entities, including both foreign and local news outfits.

Other media entities in Guyana have had similar experiences, with one online media entity putting out a statement distancing itself from an imitation page which was also peddling untruths.

While the legitimate owners of the media entities can inform Facebook of the infractions, the authorities, including the Ethnic Relations Commission, which recently issued a Code of Conduct for the political parties to adhere to during the present campaign, should take action.

The authorities can track down the purveyors of these despicable actions. We note that in the case of the fake news peddled on the fake sites, it was only the PPP/C that was sought to be presented in a negative light.